No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

02 January, 2010

New Year in Hayama

Happy New Year 2010!
明けましておめでとう
2010 is the Year of the Tiger
In Japan, the coming of the New Year is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Japanese culture. The entire country takes off from the 30th to the 3rd of January and goes to visit family and friends. Tokyo became a quiet shell of a city, with the exception of those performing Hatsumode, the year's first visit to the temple. We, too, left the city to stay with our friends John and Moegi in Hayama, a small beach town about an hour south of Tokyo.

New Year's Eve was super windy. We had planned to go kayaking, but the ocean was too angry us. What's left of the fishing boats after early October's typhoon were knocking into each other in the stormy seas.

We also checked out a little beach shack we are thinking of renting in Akiya, the next little beach town over. The 2 bedroom "bungalow" rents for $500 per month and we might go in on it with 2-3 other friends. It's a 30 second walk from the beach in a great location. It's in dire need of a fix up, but perfect for cheap weekends away from from the city.

John took us on a hike in the hills up to a lookout that gave a 360 degree view of Tokyo, Yokohama, Tokyo Bay, Fuji-San and the ocean.

Yokohama, Tokyo, and Tokyo Bay in the distance.


Back at the house and after some shopping for dinner, James and I made it to the beach to watch the sunset on Japan in 2009. It was painfully cold and windy, which you can probably tell by my scarf.

The sun setting on 2009 in the land of the rising sun. Fuji-San hid in the clouds just off to the right (or West).

James put on his most dapper attire for the evening's festivities.

After eating a strange mix of sushi, fried chicken, peppered duck, cheese, crackers, olives and my peanut butter cookies, we settled in with drinks to watch Kohaku Uta Gassen, the Japanese end of the year variety show, somewhat akin to watching the ball drop in Times Square. In the show, the year's most popular singers, J-Pop stars, dancers and actors are divided into two teams. The teams then perform and compete against each other to be crowned winner just before midnight.

Only 44 seconds to go! After midnight we went to the beach. The champagne had warmed me (or numbed me) enough to take a dip.

On New Year's Day, our friend Emi-chan made us Ozoni, a traditional new year soup made with mountain vegetables and mochi. It's part of a new year cuisine called osechi-ryori that is made up of small traditional dishes of pickled vegetables, seaweed, and fishcakes.

The ocean was a little more peaceful on the first day of the year. After lots of delicious treats, Moegi, Yuki and Emi took me for a new year onsen dip at a nearby ryokan. It was really nothing more than a double wide bathtub, but I felt renewed scrubbing away 2009 and welcoming 2010. After a few games of backgammon, we headed home on the train to prepare for this morning's disappointing Rose Bowl loss. Oh well, there's always next year.

1 comment:

KP said...

That last pic is amazing. Bliahdna Mhath Ur to you both (happy new year in Scots Gaelic). xo